As a global pandemic continued to rage across much of the country, President Donald Trump held an event at the White House Tuesday to celebrate himself as a conservationist in the mold of late President Theodore Roosevelt.
Flanked by Republican lawmakers, including two Senate allies with lousy environmental records and who face tough roads to reelection in November, Trump signed into law a major public lands package that’s being celebrated as the most significant conservation legislation in a generation.
Much like his environmental speech last July, Trump’s address Tuesday was full of spin ― an attempt to greenwash an abysmal conservation record ahead of the 2020 election. He repeatedly mentioned and compared himself to Roosevelt, America’s conservation president.
“This is a very big deal,” Trump said at the signing ceremony. “There hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect.”
For more than three years, Trump has prioritized fossil fuel and other development over environmental protection, cutting regulatory “red tape” over species conservation. He led the largest rollback of national monuments in U.S. history and has worked to weaken safeguards for some 35 million acres (nearly 1,000 times more than he and his team have protected), earning the title of the most “anti-nature” president ever, according to a recent analysis from the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
“President Trump and his enablers in the Senate can’t wash away the dirty reality of a public lands record that is unequivocally the worst in history,” Jayson O’Neill, director at conservation nonprofit Western Values Project, said in a stateme. “This is a win for the people that spoke up, reached out, and whose overwhelming outcry to save our parks and fund our public lands forced politically vulnerable officials into action. At the end of the day, people can tell the difference between public land champions and D.C....